Since we all are teachers, whether ultimately "our own teacher", teaching others privately or teaching the youth in a school setting such as Middle School, High School or College level, I will be gearing FixYourBrass to include teachers and performers. My posts will have various "topics" (Range, for example), with information for development and maintaining these categories as well as problems that may arise. The posts may be followed by my own "comments" and as to solutions to these problems watch for follow-up posts. So please add your own comments as to create a dialogue regarding said posts as well as any "personal problems" that I can help with. Looking forward to this exchange.


Friday, September 24, 2010

A Success Story

I would like show this to our viewers. It is from one of my students.

I wanted to share an encouraging story with you. As
you know, I teach band from grades 7-12 in a rural community.

Over the past two years, I have been continually refining my pedadogy,

and I am starting to figure out what works and what doesn't with young students.

Today, I started a group of 18 seventh grade trumpet players. Aside
from set-up, maintenance of the horn, etc., the first thing I taught

them was how to wet their lips and how to buzz. We spent about 15-20 minutes
working on this until every student could buzz. I told them to
wet their teeth, mouthcorners, and both lips, and to keep them
saturated at all times. I also told

them to form their lips with the red part of their lower lip hugging
the edges of their teeth, and the upper lip reaching down like saying
the letter "m". We practiced this procedure, and then I had them buzz
long, high notes. I also had them place their thumb and forefinger
on their mouthcorners, and instructed them to make sure that their
mouthcorners were firm when buzzing. After the 15-20 minutes, all
of the students were able to buzz SOMETHING. I would say that about
half of them had superb looking and sounding buzzing embouchures (for

beginners), while the other half could buzz but were still

trying to get the knack of it. Now the surprising part:

When I had them play their first notes on the trumpet, I instructed them to form

their embouchures "as if they were going to buzz" (but not buzz). I
told them that their jaw might be in a different position when they

play than when they buzz and to not worry about this. The next part really
blew me away: about 75% of the eighteen players played middle C (third) as

their first note! Some kids were playing as high as fourth space E

or top of the staff G for their first note!

This completely caught me off guard as I have become accustomed to

hearing the usual low C groan.
Deciding to experiment, I asked the players to try and match a fourth space E

that I played for them. Five or six players could play this note with
little strain.

Going yet higher, 3-4 were able to play the top of staff G

(including two players that were very obviously upstream players). I
had two beginners that were able to match high C. One student was able
to play a high E with higher squeakers (three ledger lines). This
student looked like
an upstream player. I have done many beginner trumpet clinics, and

this has never been the result yet.

However, in the past, I have never been so adamant about getting the
buzzing right before playing.

Thinking that "this particular group of students might be just good with
high range and they will probably have problems with lower notes," I

asked them all to match a low C. All of them could play the low C

without problems. There was nothing special about this group of
students--they represented a typical cross-section of students in an average
grade 7 middle school class.

Not once did I mention the words "tense your lips" or "blow harder." In fact,
I didn't talk about air at all.
These students didn't need to "blow harder" or "blow faster" to get

the middle C...they
just needed to be taught how to form their embouchure in a firm manner
and retain that while playing. In terms of tone quality, I could not
believe what I was hearing from beginners!

I used this same approach with 9 trombone players last week, and all

of them could play F without strain. Most of them could play middle Bb,

and a few could get up to the D and F above that.

I had a tuba player that had incredible high range using this approach

(high Bb and above), but had real trouble getting the low Bb. I will

have to work with him on relaxing the embouchure for the low tones.

I hope that you find these results encouraging. Please know that Reinhardt's
teachings are being used in the school system by at least one band teacher,
and that the results have been remarkable.

By the way: I never mention the pivot except to an advanced student.

This speaks for itself. Thank you, B.

1 comment:

FixYourBrass said...

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